Tara Williams is Associate Dean of the Honors College as well as a professor of English and affiliate faculty in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She teaches and works on medieval literature and culture, with a particular emphasis on fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Middle English texts. Her first book, Inventing Womanhood: Gender and Language in Later Middle English Writing (Ohio State University Press, 2011), examines how ideas about womanhood evolved in the wake of the plague and traces a new set of terms—including womanhood and femininity—that Middle English writers coined to explore those changing ideas. She has also published articles on Geoffrey Chaucer, Margery Kempe, and gender studies in journals such as Exemplaria, Chaucer Review, Modern Philology, and Studies in the Age of Chaucer. Her scholarship on pedagogical issues has appeared in Profession, Pedagogy, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching, Approaches to Teaching the Canterbury Tales (MLA, 2014), and Teaching the History of the English Language (MLA 2019). Her essay on teaching with the Oxford English Dictionary is posted on the OED teaching resources site. A Chronicle of Higher Education column co-authored with Dr. Rebecca Olson gives a behind-the-scenes look at their collaborative teaching and writing experiences.
Her recent work focuses on magic and marvels. An essay in Word & Image considers the two tiny dragons in the margins of the Ellesmere manuscript and how they encourage us to read the Canterbury Tales as a marvel collection. Her second book, Middle English Marvels: Magic, Spectacle, and Morality in the Fourteenth Century (Penn State University Press, 2018; paperback edition 2019), explores the connections between magic, spectacle, and morality in fourteenth-century texts like Sir Orfeo, Lybeaus Desconus, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Wife of Bath's Tale, and the Squire's Tale; related pieces can be found in New Medieval Literatures and Philological Quarterly as well as on the postmedieval forum. This work has been supported by internal and external grants, including the Morton W. Bloomfield Fellowship at Harvard University.
Williams has recently served elected terms on the Advisory Board for the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship and in the Modern Language Association Forum on Language Change.